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Car Bombs Kill at Least 22 in Iraq

'Hour by Hour, the Situation Is Getting Worse,' Witness Says

By Karl Vick and Omar Fekeiki
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, October 5, 2004; Page A19

BAGHDAD, Oct. 4 -- Of the four car bombs that exploded in Iraq on Monday, it was the concussive detonation on Baghdad's crowded Saadoun Street that left Muhammed Ahmed suddenly all by himself in his third-grade classroom.

"All the students ran away," said Muhammed, 8, who, though frightened, made his way with his book bag to the scene of the explosion "to see what happened."

A foreign national is evacuated after a suicide bombing in Baghdad that targeted SUVs carrying employees of DynCorp, a Reston-based defense contractor. Six people were killed and 15 were injured in the attack. (Saurabh Das -- AP)

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Video: Two deadly car bombs exploded in Baghdad Monday morning. One occurred near the entrance of the so-called Green Zone, which houses the U.S. Embassy and Iraqi government offices.

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A pickup truck loaded with explosives had barreled into a convoy of sport-utility vehicles, which have become the most conspicuous targets in Baghdad because they invariably carry foreigners. The truck's charred chassis littered the street, along with gnarled hunks of metal and rubber, the shining gravel of burst window glass, a human head and other body parts.

"I always fear when I see the explosion scenes on TV, but now I see it live," Muhammed said. "I didn't know it would be this scary."

Across Iraq on Monday, car bombs killed at least 22 people and injured more than 100. The car bomb on Saadoun Street, outside the Baghdad Hotel, killed six and injured 15, and was the second bombing there in the past year. So was the bomb that killed 15 and wounded 81 at a National Guard recruiting station on the stretch of road just outside Baghdad's Green Zone where the head of Iraq's former Governing Council was killed in May, and close to the U.S. Embassy and key government installations.

Monday's third blast, in the northern city of Mosul, killed a bystander and the two bombers, who apparently blew themselves up by accident while waiting behind an elementary school for a U.S. military patrol to pass by. Yet another suicide bomber struck a U.S. patrol elsewhere in Mosul, injuring one American soldier.

"Hour by hour, the situation is getting worse," said Saad Muwaffaq, 25, who was guarding a building about 50 yards from the Saadoun Street blast. "We cannot walk for 100 meters without fearing a car bomb now."

Two American soldiers were killed Sunday by small-arms fire at a Baghdad checkpoint, the U.S. military. A senior official at Iraq's Ministry of Science and Technology was assassinated in Baghdad, Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman, an Interior Ministry spokesman, told the Associated Press. Another Science Ministry employee was also killed.

One U.S. soldier was killed and two others were injured late Monday when a roadside bomb exploded beside their convoy near Baghdad, the military said.

The al-Jazeera satellite television network reported the release of a video showing two hostages -- one an Iraqi businessman based in Italy, the other a Turkish national -- being shot in the head by guerrillas.

Car bombings in Iraq have become commonplace in recent weeks; U.S. officials counted more than 70 during September.

The people killed, more than ever, are Iraqis. The aftermath of the Saadoun Street bombing brought home the horrors that may have become routine to a world watching from a safe distance but that in Iraq still pierce individual lives as deeply as ever.

"Why are they doing these attacks? Is it forbidden for Iraqis to live normally?" Khairiya Abdul Hussein, 51, cried as she searched for her daughter, who worked as a maid for a company on Saadoun Street. "I always asked her to quit. We know this street is a target, but she didn't listen."

Jafar Zyara, 17, who sells tea on the street, said he saw the convoy of SUVs emerge from an alley beside the Baghdad Hotel, which is known as a residence for foreign private security firms and intelligence personnel. Iraqi guards halted traffic to make way for the convoy, which carried members of DynCorp, a Reston-based defense contractor. News services said the bomb was hidden under a load of dates in the pickup.

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